As we inch towards the end of another year, some of us may have reasons to rejoice, while the rest of us may be thankful this year is finally over. For a few of us 2016 must have been the year that brought happiness, answers to our prayers and a hope for a better life, for others it might have been the year that spelt doom and took away hope from their lives. But we all await the new year with an eagerness that’s hard to quell.
The year 2016 has certainly not been the easiest year of the century. It has left a bitter taste in the mouth and some really bad headlines. Though a leap year, it seems to have crawled its way to the finish line.
According to the Mesoamerican Long Calendar, the world was supposed to witness an apocalypse in 2012. But 2012 came and went without any hiccup putting an end to all predictions. Fast forward, four years later came 2016, which had all the sightings of an apocalypse–global warming, rising oceans, animal extinction, wildfires, floods, wars, Zika virus, civil unrest, and to add to it deaths of prominent people.
The world stood still and mourned the deaths of thousands who lost their lives in civil unrest in West Asia and witnessed cities drown inch by inch in the pool of blood.
The year kicked off with the sad demise of music legend David Bowie and just a week later it was Alan Rickman, our beloved Professor Snape from Harry Potter franchise. The grim reaper did not just end his activity here, he took away Muhammed Ali–one of the greatest of all time, Harper Lee of To Kill a Mocking Bird fame, pop and rock icon Prince and the all-time music great Leonard Cohen. The list still doesn’t end. The mighty kept falling like crumbling walls of an old house. The world stood still and mourned the deaths of thousands who lost their lives in civil unrest in West Asia and witnessed cities drown inch by inch in the pool of blood.
Though social media has officially dubbed 2016 as the worst year in the history of the world, it was not doom gloom alone. We had reasons to celebrate too. The year gone by was the year of Rio Olympics, a restorative; the year where 50 million trees were planted by the people of India–a step towards a greener world; when gravel-gargling Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in literature–a remarkable deviation from the norm.
It is also the year where people survived cancer, managed depression, celebrated birthdays, weddings and thanksgiving despite the drama of life that unfolded. Good things managed to survive through the bad 12 months. So what now? Safe to say it’s time to look forward to good things in the coming year. A fresh start is what all of us want after a tough year. A new start is only possible with change.
Now that we have eight more days left for the new year to kick in, it is a good time to think about the change we wish to bring in our lives.
When the clock strikes 12 on the new year’s eve, it will be a new day, a new beginning. It will also be the time to make resolutions. Yes, the same resolutions we break just as soon as we make them. We make resolutions like staying fit, eating right, giving up smoking, to stop being lazy. But along the course of the year we tend to succumb to old habits. What is it that stops us from keeping up our resolutions? Studies suggest the ‘doing’ systems and ‘knowledge’ systems in the brain are run by different processes. Most of us know junk food is bad for health, yet it is difficult to give up on it.
Studies have shown that it takes exactly 21 days to develop a habit and 90 days to incorporate a lifestyle. That isn’t much if it’s going to change your life.
Yet another trap is habit. Our habits overpower our willpower and our resolutions slide down the drain. Even as we determine to wake up early and go for a run, we are consciously driven to our habits. Most of us are in an autopilot mode. It is said that 90 percent of our good intentions fail because of our habits. Studies have shown that it takes exactly 21 days to develop a habit and 90 days to incorporate a lifestyle. That isn’t much if it’s going to change your life.
So, how do we work towards realising these resolutions?
By cutting our resolutions down into smaller bits. A gigantic change can’t be brought in a day; making specific and actionable resolutions. Contextualising the resolutions gives them a concrete shape. For instance, drinking five litres of water in a day needs to be more specific. I will drink 2.5 litres of water at work and another 2.5 litres at home is more like it. Most importantly, it is crucial to not be a slave to force of habit.
Soulveda picked a few simple things we could do to help bring change, both subtle and obvious, and open doors to a more gratifying life.
Gratitude: This year, be grateful to things and people in your life. Thank people around you who have contributed to your life.
Read: Read anything and everything. It will help you in ways you have not imagined. Apart from the regular benefits like enriching your language, books are companions for life because they emote like friends. A book is a partner for a rainy day, a sunny day, any day.
Exercise: A morning run isn’t going to hurt. You might miss out on a few dreams, but there is nothing more beautiful than the morning sun. And of course, sometimes reality is better than a dream. Wake up and bask in the morning sun.
Nip procrastination: There is nothing more dangerous than procrastination. In the act of constantly delaying things, we lose out on life. Procrastination adds to our struggle. New year is a good time to take charge of our lives.
Adopt a pet: How does it feel to get back home after a long day to four-legged furry creatures. That joy is unexplainable. The unadulterated love of a pet is worth all the hard work and relentless days. If adopting a pet is not feasible, feed a hungry stray. They will forever be grateful to you.
A day away from your gizmos: Despite all the good technology has done for us, it is sometimes okay to cut it out of our day. Switch off phones, shut down laptops and just relax.
Travel: Somebody wise said, “Sometimes it is not about the destination, but about the journey itself.” Travelling teaches you like no schools and teachers can. It helps you understand yourself and the world, with a perspective you didn’t know you had.
Most of all, this new year spend time with your parents–they won’t be with us forever. Smile more, laugh and allow yourself to love and be loved. Lead by example, practice before preaching. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”